Ford Bring Alternative Fuel Home To Roost

It is hard to love a chicken. Yes, you can keep them at the bottom of the garden, collect their eggs and give them names like Clara but, unlike say a dog or a gerbil, you can’t really warm to them as pets, can you?

With their beady, beady eyes and their beaky, beaky faces and all that perpetual pecking, they are not exactly your first choice as Vogue cover material, but they do make for good eating. As the old saying goes, “the only good chicken is a cooked chicken”. Colonel Sanders casts a long shadow. Now though, it is possible that the humble hen could help the environment too.

Although basically known as a foodstuff it nevertheless doesn’t stop poultry being an economic powerhouse in more ways than one. Countless millions of broiler chickens are bred every year for food and all the resulting manure has to go somewhere. So it was only a matter of time before the motor industry – in their ongoing search for viable alternative fuels of the future – latched upon it as a potential solution.

Obviously there’s nothing new about producing energy from poultry guano. There is already much use of the bi-product worldwide to generate power and the science has been known for a long time.

Up until now, the biogas tends to be produced on site, possibly by way of plant attached to the huge commercial chicken sheds that abound and the resulting energy supplied for local use or to the national electricity grids. This energy can certainly be used for powering cars.

Now though, Ford have quietly announced that they have taken this technology one stage further. On Friday this week at the New York Motor Show they will unveil their latest concept, the Ford Chanticleer; an all-terrain SUV that runs on biogas.

As has been shown plenty of times already, it is relatively straightforward to convert internal combustion engines to run on gas stored in on-board tanks. This time though the Chanticleer is said to be the first vehicle ever to produce its own biogas from a powdered form of the raw material by means of an supplementary converter fitted low down in the engine bay, that is itself powered by recovered energy, KERS style. The resultant gas is then stored in an underfloor tank ready for subsequent use.

This of course means that it is the work of a minute to re-fuel your car at home. All it will require is the occasional visit to your local hardware store to stock up on handy sacks of powder and pour in the required amount through the filler provided. Just think of the advantages for a minute; the dried power is much, much cheaper to produce, there’ll be no more queuing on garage forecourts and no more being at the mercy of oil speculators. Chicken is pretty much an endless resource if you think about it. As long as we enjoy the tasty bird there will always be that natural bi-product. Better still, it is far kinder the environment.

Ford say that the Chanticleer will be shown in their impressive new ‘Golden Crumb’ metallic paint finish and that the concept is ‘75% production ready’. It will cost no more than an equivalent diesel-powered SUV. Remember, you read it here first.
Geoff Maxted